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Casa Orquideas Garden & Rio Tigre, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

The long navigation from Panamanian waters into Costa Rica was as calm as sailing through a lake. National Geographic Sea Lion felt like cutting soft butter with a knife as we made or entrance into our port of call, Golfito, for customs, water, and other errands. Golfito (the town) means “small gulf” because it is actually within a very large Gulf, Golfo Dulce, a masterpiece of the tectonical forces, which sunk the center area of this oceanic crust to an average depth of 700 ft. These enclosed waters, the lush surrounding forest, and the deepness of this gulf makes it a unique arrange of marine and land ecosystems, and therefore our day is pack with all kind of activities, in order to explore the area as much as possible. After all formalities and stamped passports were done, we were officially welcome in the country and new adventures awaited us. Dock off from Golfito, short navigation ahead, calm blue oceans, and lush green forest with patches of yellow flower trees were the scenery for our morning outing. Read More>

Jan 21, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Granito de Oro and Damas Bay, Coiba Island National Park

The morning sunrise at Gulf of Chiriqui with orange and yellow hues was a perfect scenario to fully continue our exploration in the third largest marine park of the world: Coiba Island National Park. After a smooth navigation of more than 200 nautical miles from the Panama Canal and our adventures in the Gulf of Panama, we were all prepared to have a full day of water and cultural activities in Coiba. Read More>

Jan 20, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Bona and Iguana Island

Our morning update came at 6:20 a.m. and we hit the deck day early. Some of us started our day with an early bird expedition landing craft tour while other loyal stretchers joined me on the sun deck for our morning movement class. Whether we were early risers or we waited for the “civilized hour” tour, we all got the privilege of exploring the waters around Bona and Otoque islands on the expedition landing craft and the stars of the morning had feathers! These islands are filled with birds—magnificent frigatebirds, brown boobies, blue-footed boobies, and brown pelicans were a few that we saw today. We learned some fun science vocabulary words, like “kleptoparasitic” and “siblicide”, we were wooed by the male frigatebird’s impressive red pouch, and we took some fantastic photos. Our next stop was six hours away but before we could get underway we spotted some blows on the surface and took some time to investigate. Read More>

Jan 19, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Barro Colorado Island & Panama Canal

What a day we experienced upon yesterday’s arrival to National Geographic Sea Lion and the Panama Canal. With our first day we started our crossing soon after leaving dock from the port of Colon, on the Caribbean side of Panama, and then reaching and going through the Gatun locks. We watched amazed of the efficiency of how the Panama Canal works, marveled at the foresight, the perfect engineering, the labor that built it and the history of all the people that sacrificed their lives to put it together. Built over a hundred years ago, it still runs perfectly well! The Panama Canal is indeed an important part of human history that has survived time, and with the new expansion currently under construction, it works to remain up-to-date in modern times. Read More>

Jan 18, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Barro Colorado Island, Gatun locks, Panama Canal

Last night we finished our transit late at night dropping anchored in Gatun Lake. Early this morning we had a second pilot from Panama Canal authorities that boarded National Geographic Sea Lion in order to reposition to Barro Colorado Island (BCI). Since 1923 BCI has been a biological reserve becoming a cornerstone on the region for tropical ecology studies. Its grandeur was significantly increased when the island became a bureau of Smithsonian Institute. The scientific presence has been notorious ever since. The remarkable number of researchers provide to the world all different kinds of publications.  The number of these are in the thousands.  Today, after breakfast, all of us were delighted to meet Dr. Read More>

Jan 16, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Bay of Panama Islands & Pacific Locks of Panama Canal

After a long navigation of close to 190 nautical miles the National Geographic Sea Lion was gently carried into the waters of the Bay of Panama.   For our first outing of the day, guests took turns for one-hour Zodiac rides around the perimeters of the islands of Otoque and Bona. Read More>

Jan 15, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Coiba Island National Park

We left Costa Rica last night after settling customs and immigration and entered the beautiful country of Panama. After navigating 120 nautical miles south and southeast, we reached one of the best kept coral reefs in the Americas: Coiba Island. In fact, Coiba Island is the third largest marine national park in the world.   Once a prison that kept Panama’s worst criminals off the mainland, Coiba Island National Park is a marvel of pristine forests and reefs. Read More>

Jan 14, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Saladero, Esquinas River and Casa Orquideas; Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Our fourth day aboard National Geographic Sea Lion was a sensation! We awoke to a glorious day in Golfo Dulce, where at sunrise early risers went ashore with naturalist staff at Finca Saladero to spot and photograph birdlife, while our wellness specialist—Amy Sobesky—offered an optional stretching class on the beach. Read More>

Jan 13, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Agujitas River, Caletas & San Pedrillo, Corcovado

During our sleep last night, National Geographic Sea Lion arrived and dropped anchor in Drake’s Bay, on the southwestern coast of Costa Rica, and then very early this morning we woke up and set up for a pre-breakfast excursion into the Agujitas River deep inside the bay, by boat. We love mornings, and it was indeed a fantastic morning! The fresh air blowing in our faces as we sailed in our exploration boats to the mouth of river, with magnificent views of the sunrise peeking over the forest and in the distance the Isla del Caño. Once in the pristine river, as we meandered through it, every turn offered an even better site: tall dense green forest on both sides of the river, full of mysterious calls. The water of the river was so clear that we could easily see schools of fish swimming by and then suddenly the overwhelmingly loud calls of the well-named howler monkeys nearby. At the Agujitas River we had good views of the howler monkeys at the top of the trees where the sunrays of the sunrise where just beginning to touch the forest.  There is indeed no better way to start a day!  By late morning Caletas Reserve provided horseback riding and hiking activities along with a delicious meal outdoors prepared by our hotel department. Read More>

Jan 12, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Manuel Antonio National Park VIDEO

Our first lovely day in Costa Rica started off with a gentle breeze and billowy clouds. The wonderful array of food was arranged for breakfast as we all gathered in conversation to inspire and prepare for the daily adventure. We were briefed for a longer Cathedral Point View hike and a slower paced Sloth Valley hike in search of wildlife. All groups were led by local guides in hopes of finding many forest and coastal animals, which proved to be successful. Agoutis, sloths, and monkeys were found among the trees. Birds of all kinds were spotted flying about the beach and under the canopy. The forest and tidal area provided many varieties of plants and animals to keep the wandering eyes and engaged minds occupied in learning.   After hikes were finished and people were rehydrating with coconut water, a few ventured into the warm waters for wave surfing and a pick-up Frisbee toss was started. Read More>

Jan 11, 2015 National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

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